A bill to crack down on catalytic converter theft passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee Monday.
Nineteenth Legislative District Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, who sponsored Senate Bill 5495, believes the bill remains the best defense against the fast-rising trend of catalytic converter thefts across the state, according to a news release.
The bill would enact new penalties such as the leverage of up to $5,000 in fines for the sale of the stolen catalytic converters in addition to the possibility of a felony judgment against the fencer. New record-keeping requirements regarding the sale of the motor vehicle parts and any fines collected would pave the way for law enforcement agencies to conduct “sting” operations for the crime.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a crime take off like this one,” Wilson said. “Ever since precious-metal prices went through the roof two years ago, thousands have been stolen in Washington state alone. I spotted a robbery in progress this weekend, just across the street from my house, as thieves tried to jack up a car. We can’t pretend this isn’t happening, and we can’t put it off until next year.”
The bill will receive further consideration in the Senate Rules Committee, resulting in a possible vote on the Senate floor, with Monday having been the deadline for policy-related bills to pass fiscal committees.
In a related matter, House Bill 1815, a “competing proposal supported by the scrap-metal industry” is also moving forward in its avenues, having already been approved by the House Transportation Committee, according to the news release.
“(HB 1815) would leave most decisions to a task force that would present recommendations to the Legislature next year,” the release stated. “The industry proposal also would establish a voluntary state registry of catalytic converters, to track ownership after thefts have occurred.”